March 6, 2014
A story is story only when facts mean more than mere facts, when they’re seen in relation. So put your wading boots on. You want to avoid this epiphany just below your perception. You read that Wilde said the artistic life is a long and lovely suicide. He was wrong, you say out loud. Art is a fountain from Elsewhere that feeds and supports life.
These are not your words. You ponder these words that someone else said long ago. They locked in, became part of your world view. You suddenly don’t want to remember.
You go to a morning funeral. You hear the woman comment how unfortunate the choice of dress is for the deceased. The comment kicks your gut. You feel a hopeless jumble of juvenile humor. Mawkish sentiment roils in the belly. You monitor a friend’s movements via the internet. What a miserable excuse for a brute you are.
You find the flowers pressed in your ancestor’s Bible. You hear your mother say she’d divorce your father, except she’d regret making him happy. You remember starving, and finding a vat of chili. You’re mad at your parents for not forcing you to do lessons on a musical instrument in your developmental years.
You had a dream you could fly. You remember the dream on your knees, weeding that garden, and glance at the sky. Your neighbor is killed when the homemade spaceship explodes in the back yard. An atheist rings the doorbell, hands you a pamphlet. He talks to you on the concrete porch about his lack of faith.
You fish at a stock tank for catfish. You eat from a basket of cherries. You fish nude, and pretend it’s your own nude beach. You have to be careful about the hook, and you sit only on the stone. You look at the wildflowers and fall asleep until the fish strikes.
You realize you’re sunburned. You can’t sleep that night. You pick up War And Peace and read. You fall asleep, wake from the pain, and read more. You say my name suddenly. You sob. You know I am the only one who knows you. That I accepted you despite your betrayal with no reservation.
You rise, dropping the massive book on the floor. The lamplight shines bleakly. I’ve been gone for years.
You sing “If I Only Had A Brain,” and dance that scarecrow dance.
J. Alan Nelson is a writer and a lawyer and a recluse who has been forced by circumstance to be social.
What motivates him to create:
“I have been motivated to create since childhood by an interest in the shapes of reality and how those shapes twist and change with words and symbols.”